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Libya’s distress call

The fissures in Libya are a direct threat to the entire region

SOME OBSERVERS considered the Libyan Prime Minister’s visit to Egypt last week, when he headed a delegation consisted of high-ranking officials including his deputy and nine ministers, as a last distress call by Tripoli amid worsening situations.

Meetings held between the Libyan delegation and the Egyptian president, the prime minister and the minister of defence, indicate that Tripoli has no way out of chaos except through the help of neighboring countries, especially the United States of America and its Western allies who have turned their backs on the current events in Libya while focusing on fighting the terrorist organisation “Daesh” in Syria and Iraq. The Libyan crisis is not considered urgent by the US and its allies, since the militias there are predicted to continue fighting that will last for a long time before any group starts looking outside the borders to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.

International efforts to find a solution for the Libyan crisis, whether from neighbouring countries or from the US and Western countries, might only be limited to table talk that will most probably be delayed since there is no political faction representing the majority of the people or the military. This is a problem created as a result of the 40-year rule of the late Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who didn’t allow the emergence of political or cultural elites that could represent a party in the current crisis, nor did he establish a national army.

The conflicting parties in Libya have mixed ideologies and orientations, and when they participated in a revolution against Gaddafi’s regime their only goal was to overthrow it.

Subsequently, no one was able to exploit the situation that followed toppling of Gaddafi’s regime like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt succeeded in doing and became the main player in the Egyptian political scene at that time. This is in addition to the tribal nature of the Libyan society, and the proliferation of weapons across the country.

Libyan youth who triggered the February revolution are unable to understand the nature of internal and external conspiracies against their country, and each faction believes it has the ability to resolve the conflict from its own point of view, which is mostly based on using weapons. The meeting between Libyan factions, which is due to be organised by the Algerian government sometime this month, is not expected to be very promising after some of the conflicting factions in Libya refused the concept of meeting with other factions and insisted on resolving matters militarily.

This equation didn’t leave any choice for the current Libyan government but to seek help from the neighbouring countries, especially Egypt, which has witnessed a change in its circumstances compared to the last three years that kept Cairo busy with making internal rearrangements while securing the western borders with Libya.

The situation is not anymore confined to politics alone. Instead, it has become a clear security threat to Egypt, which is seen by extremists as a fertile ground to smuggle arms and create anarchy.

The recent Libyan move towards Egypt was met with jubilation by Cairo, which considers the current terrorism phenomenon a global one, and that what is taking place in Tripoli is closely linked to regional conflicts. Both countries agreed on the necessity to rebuild collapsed Libyan institutions, and Egypt expressed willingness to train and rehabilitate Libyan police and armed forces.

The Egyptian action alone, without a doubt, will not be enough to yield fast results, but according to high-ranking sources will be coincided with a needed response from the Sudanese government which was asked by it Libya to control their shared borders and prevent infiltrations and arms smuggling. Also, there are efforts from Algeria and Tunisia to help Libya come out of the crisis.

If these efforts fail to reach political and security agreements between the warring factions, Libya will turn into a failed state that could be another center for Daesh-like organisations. Then the neighbouring countries will be left with no choice but a direct military confrontation, which will not be in favour of any party concerned.

Dr Ahmed Mokhtar is the deputy editor in chief of Al Ahram Al Masaai

Article by Dr Ahmed Mokhtar, Khaleej Times.

This article was originally published here.

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